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Texas Court Blocks Transgender Youth Abuse Inquiries

March 14, 2022 by Reece Nations
Demonstrators gather on the steps to the State Capitol to speak against transgender-related legislation bills being considered in the Texas Senate and Texas House, Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

AUSTIN, Texas — The Travis County District Court issued an injunction on Friday temporarily preventing the enforcement of a directive compelling the state child welfare agency to investigate gender-transitioning medical treatment cases as child abuse.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued the injunction against Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on the grounds that it was improperly adopted and violated the Texas Constitution, blocking the order until after a trial in the case scheduled for July. The injunction was furnished after Meachum heard a case between the mother of a transgender teenager and state attorneys.

The mother, identified in court under a pseudonym, sued the state along with Houston, Texas, clinical psychologist Megan Mooney after Abbott’s directive led the Department of Family and Protective Services to open abuse probes into transgender youth who received gender-affirming care. The plaintiff in the case heard Friday was a state employee who was placed on leave and investigated by the child welfare agency after her transgender daughter began the medical treatment.

Abuse investigators at the DFPS were instructed to prioritize cases involving the parents of transgender children after Abbott’s directive had been issued, Randa Mulanax, an investigations supervisor for the agency, said in testimony before the court. Mulanax has since submitted her resignation from the agency.

Currently, nine other families are under investigation for providing gender-affirming care, according to DFPS.

“The judge recognized the governor and DFPS’ actions for what they were — unauthorized and unconstitutional exercises of power that cause severe, immediate, and devastating harms to transgender youth and their families across Texas,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a written statement. “We are relieved for Texas families and will never stop fighting for trans justice.”

District attorneys from some of Texas’ largest counties said in a joint statement they would refuse to cooperate with Abbott’s directive, as previously reported in The Well News. The district attorneys from Travis, Bexar, Dallas, Nueces and Fort Bend counties each said they would not prosecute the families of transgender youth for child abuse as a result of the directive.

Meachum’s injunction is already set to be challenged by Attorney General Ken Paxton, who announced on Twitter he had filed an appeal hours after the ruling was issued. Despite Paxton’s assertion that the injunction was effectively “frozen” by the appeal, lawyers from the ACLU and Lambda Legal who represented the plaintiff disputed his claim.

“We consider the appeal baseless,” the lawyers said in a written statement. “Just like the state’s appeal dismissed earlier this week, we do not believe that this new appeal has any merit or that it should affect whether the injunction can remain in place. The court’s decision makes clear how harmful and lawless the state’s actions are, and we will fight to ensure the properly issued injunction remains in place.”

Recently, a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association found that gender-affirming medical treatments were associated with decreased chances of depression and suicidality in patients that received them. The findings in that study were derived from a group of 104 transgender and gender nonbinary youths between the ages of 13 and 20 who were found to have a 60% decrease in depression symptoms and a 73% lower chance of suicide over a 12-month follow-up.

In an open letter published in The Dallas Morning News on Friday, 60 major companies that do business in the state called on Texas leaders to renounce efforts to “write discrimination into law and policy.” Some of the companies that signed onto the letter include Apple, Capital One, IBM, Google and Microsoft, among others.

Various medical organizations along with the American Academy of Pediatrics similarly denounced the state’s directive in a joint statement following its announcement.

“All patients must have access to evidence-based health care, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” the physicians wrote. “Our organizations will not stand for any efforts that discriminate against transgender and gender-diverse individuals and cause harm to their health and well-being. We will continue to advocate to ensure their health needs are met and supported, not put in danger.”

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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